ATHENS ø Greece has established a no-fly zone to protect the
Greek officials said authorities have set up a 45-mile no-fly zone
around Athens in an effort to prevent enemy or suspicious aircraft from
entering the air space above the Olympic Village. They said the no-fly zone
would remain in effect during the Olympic Games in August and the
Paralympics in September.
The no-fly zone, officials said, spans the area between Athens
international airport in Spata and the main Olympic stadium, Oaka. The
no-fly zone would be enforced by a range of air defense assets, including
the PAC-3 missile defense system.
[On Wednesday, a homemade bomb exploded near an electrical substation
outside Athens, Middle East Newsline reported. Authorities reported no injuries and slight damage in what
appeared to be an attack by Greek anarchists.]
Officials said the Civil Aviation Authority has been placed on high
alert in advance of the Olympic Games, which begin on Aug. 13. They said air
traffic was expected to reach record levels between Aug. 9 and 13.
In response, the authority has designed a Control Coordinating Center to
monitor and direct airplanes in Greece's air space. The center began
operating on Aug. 1 and has been maintaining communications with the
ministries of defense, public order and transport to ensure that
unidentified or suspicious aircraft do not enter Greece.
"The Olympic Games constitute a great and difficult undertaking, but we
are not a small country," Greek Deputy Defense Minister Ioannis Lambropoulos
said. "We have a great civilization and a great history and I am confident
that we shall succeed with the help of all Greeks."
Greece has also established a 10-mile no-fly zone around the
northern Greek port of Thessaloniki. Officials said any unidentified
aircraft that enters the zone would spark an immediate alert.
Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos said he was satisfied with
Greece's air early-warning and air defense systems. The minister said the
upgraded security would not disrupt the games.
Officials said that on Aug. 5, NATO begins its contribution to the
defense of Greece during the Olympic Games. A Greek officer will take over
the NATO Mediterranean naval force command at Souda. The command will also
support security operations during the Olympics.
NATO has also established an NBC battalion at Halkida, north of Athens.
The battalion was composed of soldiers from Belgium, Czech Republic, Hungary
The United States has been closely monitoring Greek and NATO security
efforts. The United States was expected to deploy about 1,000 armed guards
to protect dignitaries, including former President George Bush, the father
of the current U.S. president.
"I hope everything will go well," United States ambassador to Athens
Thomas Miller said. "There is cooperation between Greece and the U.S. on the
issue of security."